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Field trip to the atacama desert

Overview

Alternative forms of co-existence

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 (FT) / 2 (PT) year programme
  • Full-time or part-time study

School or Centre

Location

  • Kensington

Next open day

Application deadline

  • 14 Feb 2024

Career opportunities

  • Environmental Architecture graduates are expected to go on to work in a range of fields, from further academic study to roles in environmentalist NGOs, urban planning agencies and design agencies including architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design.

Explore the future of landscapes, environments and ecosystems.

Environmental Architecture is forging a new field of knowledge production and practice, designing alternative forms of co-dependence between life forms and earth systems. The programme blends design, ethnography, and technoscientific tools to analyse, classify, and produce environmental data. At the same time, you’ll gain insight from global environmental leaders, histories and theories of environmental change, explore change history, and delve into environmental law and climate justice.

As part of the programme, you’ll engage with live projects in sites of complex environmental change. Work with experts from other disciplines, such as lawyers, geologists or biologists. Embark on multiple-day field trips where you can stakeholders and meet local communities while testing and exploring environmental research and analysis methods.

Possible research areas include sustainable forms of urbanisation, concepts of stewardship, environmental change and its effect on migration and settlement patterns, climate justice, impacts of resource extraction on ecosystems, energy transition, post-development and degrowth, indigenous struggles, and many others.

Join a top art institution and benefit from a rich culture of radical, interdisciplinary work at the Royal College of Art. Forge global connections through our pioneering mentorship scheme, uniting you with local and international expertise, elevating your journey in the field.

Applications for the September 2024 intake are open and will be assessed on a rolling basis. Programmes will close for applications when the maximum number of places have been awarded, or at the final deadline on 14 August, 12 noon (UK time).

Explore our graduate work

In July 2023, students presented RCA2023, a series of exhibitions of their work and events. Explore online at https://2023.rca.ac.uk/

You can also view previous events and exhibitions online at Showcase.

Find out more about this programme

Catch the replays from our online Open Day.

Gallery

Staff

Facilities

The School of Architecture is currently based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

The MA Environmental Architecture programme aims to expand the scope and content of design-led research in the field of architecture, environmental studies and territorial management. Possible areas of inquiry can include: sustainable forms of urbanisation; concepts of stewardship and care for nature; environmental change and its effect on migration and settlement patterns; climate justice adaptation to land use practices; impacts of resource extraction on ecosystems; environmental impacts of the energy transition; post-development and degrowth; indigenous struggles for land and environments; among many others.

Students on the MA Environmental Architecture programme will have the opportunity to pursue a degree within a world leading art and design institution, and to access the rich culture of radical and experimental interdisciplinary work at the Royal College of Art. Moreover, the programme will help students to establish a network of colleagues and mentors by offering them the opportunity of connecting to leading figures in Environmental Architecture both in London and internationally through an innovative practice mentorship scheme.

There will be several opportunities to collaborate with others, but at a minimum, your programme will include 200.5 contact hours and 1599.5 independent study hours. Contact hours can consist of lectures, seminars, tutorials, critical forums and workshops, among other types of teaching delivery.

Teaching types included in your programme can include briefings, projects, tutorials, seminars, lectures, critical forums, technical inductions, technical workshops, offsite visits and blended learning.

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units.

Term 1

In term 1, you will study Studio Unit 1: Architectures of Extraction. This unit offers an introduction to the programme’s field-focused investigation into resource extraction architectures and their role in the climate and environmental crisis. It familiarises you with particular modes of work, especially design-based research methodologies, and collaborative forms of knowledge production.

Seminar Unit 1: Metabolic Rifts introduces you to the complex entanglements of environment and climate systems.

You will also take Media Studies 1, a School-wide unit that aims to increase your critical engagement with media and space.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

In term 2, you will study Research Studio Unit 2: Environmental Interventions, in which you will develop a design intervention strategy for the site explored in term 1. Emphasis will be placed on the definition of outputs, in relation to key project aims and stakeholders.

Seminar Unit 2: Critical Future Scenarios will deepen your understanding of environmental architecture and its potential socio-environmental impacts.

In term 2 all School of Architecture students will be offered an Elective unit.

Term 3

The programme culminates in the Independent Research Project (IRP). This unit enables you to apply the intellectual, technical and professional skills that you have developed throughout the programme to a challenging self-set brief focusing the role of digital tools to fostering social innovation.

Download the Environmental Architecture Programme Specification 2023/34 (PDF)

The part-time programme is spread across two academic years, with a distribution of 90 credits per year. This allows for a lower intensity of teaching which is balanced by a longer maturation time for the development of the Independent Research Project.

Year 1

Year 1 is focused on theoretical and historical skills, developed together with the Full-time version of the programme. Students will familiarise themselves with the field of Environmental Architecture through the seminar units ‘Metabolic Rifts’ (Term 1) and ‘Critical Future Scenarios’ (Term 2). Year 1 includes the Across RCA Unit, which will allow students a critical complement to seminar-based teaching, reflecting on collaborative research practices. In Term 3 students will develop the first stage of their Independent Research Project (IRP-I) and participate in the Public Presentation of Work.

Year 2

Year 2 is focused on studio-based skills, developed together with the Full-time version of the programme. Students will be able to further explore the design implications of the work developed in the previous year by engaging with the site-based research developed in the studio units ‘Architectures of Extraction’ and ‘Environmental Interventions’, including the field trip. Year 2 includes the School Wide and Elective Units across Term 1 and Term 2.

The year concludes with the second part of the Independent Research Project (IRP-II) in term 3 when students will work towards fine-tuning their proposals towards the final submission at the end of term.

You will participate in AcrossRCA. This unit aims to support students to meet the challenges of a complex, uncertain and changing world by bringing them together to work collaboratively on a series of themed projects informed by expertise within and beyond the College. These projects will challenge you to use your intellect and imagination to address key cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges. In doing so, you will develop and reflect on the abilities required to translate knowledge into action, and help demonstrate the contribution.

Download the Environmental Architecture Programme Specification 2023/24 (PDF)

AcrossRCA is a compulsory 30-credit unit which is delivered as part of all MA programmes.

Situated at the core of your RCA experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College-wide unit supports you in responding to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds. Developed in response to student feedback, AcrossRCA creates an exciting opportunity for you to collaborate meaningfully across programmes.

Challenging you to use your imagination and intellect to respond to urgent contemporary themes, this ambitious unit will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations and panel discussions from acclaimed speakers who will introduce the themes and act as inspirational starting points for your collaborative team response.

Delivered online and in-person across two terms, the unit has been designed to complement your disciplinary studies and to provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.

AcrossRCA

In the Studio, Kaiwen Yu

The weekly design studio is the core of the MA programme. Work in the studio is organised individually and in small student groups (2–4 students), and teaching is conducted during weekly group tutorials and pin-up presentations.

The design studios introduce the pedagogy of the programme, provide you with design skills and research methodologies to analyse case studies, while assisting you with the formulation of research and design proposals. The teaching model combines written and design components, as both are considered essential practices in the generation of a disciplinary ecology. Currently, the programme features three design studios, each exploring architecture’s potential contribution to communities and organisations engaged in territorial disputes and resource extraction: 

RS3: Alentejo Research Unit / Liquid Deserts Studio

RS4: Anemoi

RS6: Saharan Becomings

Previous design studios:

RS5: 1,000 rivers

RS2: The Orang-orang and the Hutan Studio

RS1: Lithium Triangle Research Studio

Borneo Field Trip, 2019, Photo: Christina Leigh Geros

Environmental questions are rarely far from contemporary public debate.

Climate change, global warming, global forest fires, and extreme weather events, mass species extinction, the pollution of our air, seas, land and rivers, not to forget the pollution of our own bodies and food supplies are all daily headline news in print and televisual media.

How should we think about these questions within a school of architecture?

Seminars require constant engagement and involvement by students in course material selection and preparation, collective discussions and oral presentations.

Past guests include: Susan Schuppli, Pedro Neves Marques, Adrian Lahoud, Lindsay Bremner, Nabil Ahmed, Nikos Katsikis, Shela Sheik, RIVAL, Zannah Mae Matson, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Phineas Harper, Imani Jacqueline Brown and Professor Aran Chadwick. 

This unit enables students to explore how architects communicate ideas from both a contemporary and historical perspective. This encompasses a range of media that spans disciplines, ideologies and methods.

Students will use both analogue and digital technologies to understand better how a designer creates, interrogates and manipulates spatial environments.

This investigation will take place in a critical context, which explores how images are used to manufacture socio-political ideologies and negotiate public identities.

Nabil Ahmed

We have an innovative format of partnership with a selected group of professional practices and organisations. In the beginning of your Independent Research Project (IRP), you’ll be paired with a mentor  according to your research interests and work on your proposal for six weeks on-site within the mentor’s installations. In doing so we hope professional practices and organisations might have a foundational role in the development of the student’s IRP. 

Composed of a unique set of practices at the forefront of contemporary environmental design and thinking, our mentors aim to reflect the diversity of perspectives and possibilities within our programme.

Mentors change every year depending on student interests and mentor availability.

Recent practice mentors include:

AFO

Atelier 10

Atmos Lab

BBUK

CatalyticAction

Hassell Studio

Ian Ritchie Architects

Interprt

Rival Strategy

T-E-D-S

Wayward

Yves Daccord

Vineet Diwadkar

Matilda Cassani

Autonomy

Dr. Samaneh Moafi

Marc DuBois

Claudia Montero - Fundación Desierto de Atacama

Skye Moret

Pippa Howard – Fauna & Flora International

Jess Myers

Dr. Maria Guevara, MD – Médecins Sans Frontières

Nashin Mahtani 

Future Firm

Konstantina Koulouri – Dark Matter Labs

Dane Carlson – REALMS

Tasting Window

Curation, installation, and exhibition are important methods of communication that opens new dialogues about environmental conflicts; while helping creative the threads of research and design travel and form new collaborations. Throughout the programme students have opportunities to show their work within and outside of the RCA.

Requirements

What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

This programme accepts students from a wide range of backgrounds, including career changers. Many of those who join the programme will be students of architecture with a 3+2-year Bachelor and Master’s degree, or master-equivalent 5-year diploma preferably in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Urbanism, Urban Design or other related design discipline looking to acquire expertise in large scale, environmental and ecological design projects.

However the programme also attracts many people from other backgrounds, such as fine arts, social sciences, geography, urban studies, planning or economics, as well as those who do not already have a Master's degree. If your prior work is of exceptional merit and you’re able to demonstrate your ability to work alongside and contribute to multidisciplinary teams, please do apply. Evidence of your intellectual and professional curiosity and a readiness to engage in a rigorous and demanding period of study is essential.

What's needed from you

Environmental Architecture is a speculative and interdisciplinary programme aimed at exploring the contribution of architecture to our current environmental and climate crises. We welcome architects and designers from all diverse fields of expertise, career changers and people with unique experiences and backgrounds.

If you're not a designer, don’t worry – show us how you’ve addressed environmental and ecological issues in your field, communicate it visually or in writing, evidencing your unique creativity in whatever form this may take.

When uploading your portfolio, we would like you to prioritise pieces of work that showcase:

  • ability and commitment in addressing environmental and climate issues
  • technical design or visualisation skills (these might take the form of drawing, model making, 3D modelling, animation, film, photography, exhibition design or others)
  • research skills (this could include academic papers, fieldwork and documentary practices, science-based environmental analysis or other).

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

While portfolios showcase important technical and design skills, there are certain aspects of an application that are better grasped by hearing you speak about your own work. As part of your application, you must submit a video of no more than two minutes as part of the application process.

Please take this opportunity to tell us a bit more about your motivations and personal interests, and how these have led you to apply to this programme.

Start by telling us what led to your interest in the Environmental Architecture MA. Could you reflect on some of the difference ways by which architecture could have a positive contribution to addressing climate change?

Finally, where do you see yourself in the future, and what you expect to gain from studying at the Royal College of Art and in the MA Environmental Architecture.

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic or UKVI score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE) and at least 5.5 in other skills. Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

If you require a Student Visa (part-time route) for the MA Environmental Architecture programme, you will have work restrictions and will not be allowed to work in the UK during your studies. If you are currently employed on a Tier 2 visa you can apply for the part-time MA Environmental Architecture programme as long as you can continue to work for the same employer who is sponsoring you, otherwise you would need to switch to a Student Visa (part-time route) and would no longer be allowed to work in the UK.   

For more information please see Student Visa or contact our Student support team

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for September 2024 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home (Full-time)
(subsidised)
£15,150*
Overseas and EU (Full-time)
£35,950*
Home (Part-time)
(subsidised)
£9,850 per year
£19,700 total fee
Overseas and EU (Part-time)
£23,350 per year
£46,700 total fee

Deposit

New entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

Home
£1,000
Overseas and EU
£2,000

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.

Scholarships

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, USA

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey

Eligible fee status: Overseas fee status

Value: £7,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 towards fees

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligibility criteria: Students who identify as D/deaf or disabled

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £6,000 for living costs

For: MA Environmental Architecture, MA Sculpture, MA Writing, MA Innovation Design Engineering

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: Full fees & maintenance

For: All programmes excluding short courses

Eligibility criteria: Black or Black British Caribbean, Black or Black British African, Other Black Background, Mixed - White and Black Caribbean, Mixed - White and Black African

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: Full fees & maintenance

For: All MA programmes, MArch, MFA, MDes, MRes & MEd

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £5,000 for living costs

For: Any MA programme

Eligible fee status: Home fee status

Value: £10,000 towards fees

Applying for a scholarship

You must hold an offer to study on an RCA programme in order to make a scholarship application in Spring 2024. A selection of RCA merit scholarships will also be awarded with programme offers. 

We strongly recommend that you apply for your programme as early as possible to stand the best chance of receiving a scholarship. You do not apply directly for individual awards; instead, you will be invited to apply once you have received an offer.

More information

Additional fees

In addition to your programme fees, please be aware that you may incur other additional costs associated with your study during your time at RCA. Additional costs can include purchases and services (without limitation): costs related to the purchase of books, paints, textiles, wood, metal, plastics and/or other materials in connection with your programme, services related to the use of printing and photocopying, lasercutting, 3D printing and CNC. Costs related to attending compulsory field trips, joining student and sport societies, and your Convocation (graduation) ceremony. 

If you wish to find out more about what type of additional costs you may incur while studying on your programme, please contact the Head of your Programme to discuss or ask at an online or in person Open Day.   

We provide the RCASHOP online, and at our Kensington and Battersea Campuses – this is open to students and staff of the Royal College of Art only to provide paid for materials to support your studies. 

We also provide support to our students who require financial assistance whilst studying, including a dedicated Materials Fund.

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.

Payments

Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

Change your life and be here in 2024. Applications now open.

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
2.
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
3.
Consider attending an Open Day, or one of our portfolio or application advice sessions
See upcoming sessions
4.
Please note, all applications must be submitted by 12 noon on the given deadline.
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Register your interest with us here
RCA Kensington cafe